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Robin Williams’ children want to teach everyone how to support someone struggling with mental illness

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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Robin Williams

Almost five years after the actor’s death, his son has spoken about the “helplessness” he felt watching his father suffer.

Almost five years ago, on 11 August 2014, Robin Williams tragically died by suicide.

In a new interview, the Mrs Doubtfire star’s son Zachary Williams has spoken about the particular burden that children of parents struggling with mental illness can feel.

“It was sad to see someone who was suffering so,” Zachary told Good Morning Britain. “As a family member and a child, you want to do everything you can to help soothe and ease what seemed to be intense personal pain.” 

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Zachary, who works as a mental health advocate and entrepreneur, added: “There were times where it felt like there was helplessness from my part, I didn’t know what I could do, or how I could be of the best support.” 

Robin Williams and son Zachary Williams
Robin Williams and son Zachary Williams

“Amongst those people who were close to him, we all loved him so and found it difficult because he wasn’t always open to sharing his personal pain and struggle,” he added. “And we noticed that over a period of time.”

Most difficult, Zachary said, was watching his father continuing to work and perform despite his mental illness. “It was heartbreaking because he still went out and wanted to share his feelings of laughter and humour with the world. And while he was suffering and struggling, he still went out and performed,” Zachary said. “I admire him and loved him so, and having to share him was hard.”

Zachary’s sister Zelda, who is an actor like her father, has also spoken about the grief she felt upon losing her dad.

Robin Williams with daughter Zelda Williams.

“I live my sadness every day,” Zelda wrote in an Instagram post from 2015. “But I don’t resent it anymore. Instead, I do it now so that the wonderful moments of joy I do find are not in order to forget, but to inhabit and enjoy for their own sake. It’s not easy. In fact, I’d say it takes much more effort to consciously do than it does to stay sad, but with all my heart, I cannot tell you how worth it it is.”


The post continued: “And for those suffering from depression, I know how dark and endless that tunnel can feel, but if happiness seems impossible to find, please hold on to the possibility of hope, faint though it may be. Because I promise you, there’s enough nights under the same yellow moon for all of us to share, no matter how or when you find your way there.”

If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US for a 24-hour phone service every day of the year at 800-273-TALK (8255). 

In the UK, Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year.

Mind also provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. You can find more information on their website.

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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